Posts Tagged ‘BSGA’

March was one of those months that just flew by, was solid with bookings and when you get to the end of the month you sit back and think, yeah we did it.

The month kicked off with us covering the UK BSGA Trampoline Finals in Belfast. We had been booked for this since our coverage of the previous 2017 event. The organiser had approached us, asked us if we were prepared to travel and after some brief discussions we were booked again.

The journey and ferry was simply a repeat of the January travelling I had done for the Steel Panther & Wayward Sons tour, though this time there was no issue with snow. I’m pleased that this event was just outside the normal poor winter weather possibility as when the van is full of gear, I wouldn’t want to be driving in snow. We set off late on the Friday and arrived at Cairnryan around 2am on the Saturday morning. Into the ferry queue and heads down for a couple of hours before waking to embark on the ferry. Once on it was find a comfy seat and fall asleep again for the two hour crossing. Arriving in Belfast at the crack of dawn, already tired, was not the best start yet the only way we could do this. A quick stop for coffee’s and breakfast still saw us arrive nice and early at the venue.

Once in we got the desk set up, the camera settings agreed and then the show started. It was absolute mayhem from start to finish, as had been the previous years finals. Several hundred school kids vying for their places on the rostrum. Parents & teachers screaming instructions at them whilst judges & helpers tried to maintain some kind of semblance and organisation to it all. To be fair the day could have been a lot worse, the PA kept failing and so communication was sporadic and at times confusing for some, yet everyone in authority just pulled together and shoved the whole machine to the finish line, just over an hour or so late.

We knew things would overrun so booking a ferry back on he same day would be almost impossible to predict and I would be seriously sleep deprived. We had therefore booked a lovely B&B just outside Belfast and, it transpired, from where we could see Stormont on the hill too. I had barely sat down and I was nodding off so an early night was had by all, to which our slumber was only disturbed by our alarm the following morning. Up, showered, breakfast and then back in the van for the ferry, the crossing & the subsequent five hour drive back to home. We arrived home mid afternoon after a no rush, plenty of coffee stop, journey.

Photography wise this was quite simple other than the open glass ceiling lights. The sun was bright and so large sun spots moved slowly accross the trampoline beds throughout the day. Altering your exposure is easy enough, though when you have just done so and the sun pops behind a cloud things can go dark. Thankfully Lisa, on our desk, was up to the job of getting these images onto our screens in a suitable state and as always did an excellent job of selling them too.

Flag bearers from the final awards ceremony.

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March also saw us cover, for the third year, the Yorkshire Gymnastics Regional Finals at Haltemprice Sports Centre. This is an absolute gem for us as its so local we can literally leave home 15 minutes before our access time. As it was our third year we knew exactly what was involved, what was expected and how we would deliver it all.

The day went smoothly and actually finished on time, which is a massive bonus for us, allowing us to have an evening meal at a most sensible time for once. Photography wise this location does not have the best of lighting and so the ISO’s are rather high. As this doesn’t bode well for cropping the pressure to capture things in an almost printable version is high. Not the easiest thing to do though once you work out what sells, where the gymnasts are doing those moves, you simply position yourself and hope things fall into place along with some good general imagery.

Its also great that they all have such a sense of fun too.

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The remainder of March was mopped up with equestrian work and another superb, one off, job which will be getting its own entry on the blog. Loch Lomond anyone?

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January is usually a quiet month for us. Gymnastic competitions are few and far between and most outdoor events, including our equestrian work, have yet to start. 2018 however started with two large events for us.

Firstly there was a re scheduled North West NDP Qualifier weekend in Wigan followed by a weekend at Huddersfield for the BSGA Northern Qualifying Event. The Wigan event is one of three qualifying events which can see competitors continue onward to national event qualification. The competition is fierce, qualification places are limited and the entire weekend is absolutely superb to watch and indeed cover. The weekend as a whole, for us personally, was a success and we left having fulfilled what we set out to do as always in deliver the best coverage possible. Starting as we meant to continue throughout 2018 we captured a rather modest 6000 images.

Secondly we covered the BSGA Northern trampoline competition qualifier for the finals which are to be held Northern Ireland during March this year. We are booked to cover the Finals too so it was interesting to see who, as in individuals and indeed schools, qualified. At this stage a large amount of the competitors are known to us from other competitions, with mostly the school groups having individuals we have not seen before. Having not been able to cover the North East qualification event in November this also let us see what they had on offer to challenge at the finals. Again the weekend went well, some 7500 images were taken and profit conversion was excellent. February was fast approaching and we had big smiles on our faces already.

So the social media image for the NDP 2.

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And the social media image for the Northern BSGA Regional Qualifier.

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November is an odd month for us in that we have been booked to cover the Yorkshire, North West and North East Schools BSGA Trampoline Competitions for the last four years. This leaves us with little room to squeeze anything else in. This year however saw the North East committee leave things so late that the only weekend they could secure a venue we were already booked (covering the NW event) so we had to decline the booking. Whilst we were saddened not to be covering it, and indeed it wasn’t covered by any photographer, we did have the backup of the equestrian work and a late gymnastics event booking too.

The Yorkshire weekend was first, followed by the North West with the gymnastics event being on the third weekend of the month. The equestrian events fell nicely into the gaps and so yet again we had a full month of events to work at. With only the League Finals in December this is the time when some good sales carries us nicely into the new year when things begin to happen again.

Again this was our fourth year of covering these BSGA events and so we knew exactly what was coming. The entire set of weekends went as planned and we came out of November in a very buoyant place. The gymnastics event was also a success as they had not previously booked a photography company to cover the event. Lots of first time purchasers there then.

Finally and yet again the equestrian work filled in the gaps. Yes its getting cold and the purchases are slowing, due to the drop in competitors, though any business is better than no business. To be honest its not much fun standing outside, for several hours, in November. I’m wrapped up like an eskimo and should the sun decide to make an appearance I will face it, absorbing its brief moments of warmth, until it becomes obscured by clouds again. The wind chill is the absolute killer now and so if there’s no wind at all I’m a happy Chappy standing beside the competition rings.

BSGA Yorkshires

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BSGA North West

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Gymnastics

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Equestrian competition in November, with sunlight.

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And just to prove that gymnastics can be fun too …..

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The end of January saw some necessary hardware upgrades of which one, the new 2016 Mac Book Pro, was an absolute pain in the proverbial for a couple of weeks.

So when you spend some serious money on hardware to assist your business you would at least expect it to work properly. Now we already have Macs and they have proven their worth in the photography side of things, especially with batch editing massive amounts of RAW files after events. Some of you may know what I mean here with the word ‘massive’ though if you are new to the blog then a typical event will garner some 5000 images on average with up to 14,000 images on national final and similar event size dates.

We have tried Windows based PC’s and to be honest they just don’t stack up against the Macs. Speed difference is blatantly obvious to the naked eye let alone when tests are run for comparison. Indeed after purchasing a so called Dell powerhouse of a laptop, which was allegedly a competitor for the Macs, it soon became obvious that this was a complete waste of money, business wise. We ran several tests, side by side, and the Dell just lagged behind in every test we did. Now we are no PC testers but loading or processing batches of identical images through photoshop, side by side, showed the windows based machine was a true snail of a editing machine. That’s the Mac v PC explained for us.

So the new MBP was unboxed, loaded up with operating essentials and prepared to be thrown in at the deep end. The deep end was the British Schools Gymnastics Association Trampoline Finals in Newcastle. This is a huge event for us and indeed the third year we have covered the finals. The rewards can be somewhat hit and miss, depending on the amount of parents who actually attend the event. More parents mean more sales and you have no idea on those numbers until the day arrives and competition begins.

Parents aside our first major issue began after setting up. Fully bench tested at home the Mac was fine and did as it should with everything required. With all the photoshop actions transferred over and new save locations adjusted this should have been as any event set up yet something was seriously amiss …….. the Mac wouldn’t link to our external display. We swapped displays between Macs and the 2012 Mac worked on both yet the 2016 Mac just wouldn’t see the external display. It had worked in testing. at home, so what was the issue here? This was new kit so straight to Google we went and what we found was not good reading. Plenty of 2016 MBP owners complaining that their machines were either intermittently seeing external displays or not seeing the displays at all. Now ours had seen the external display at home so why not here.

To cut a long story short we ended up completing a whole national series event with only one display operating which was a major hindrance. Tweets were flying between ourselves and Apple trying to resolve the issue with things moving onto phone calls in attempts to reset the software responsible for the Mac to see the external display. Nothing worked and trying to do this between potential customers was just ridiculous and embarrassing. Apple Care, to be honest, did the best they could when Apple as a company had clearly sent out machines with known issues. I had read of people having this issue from the machines being new some six months previously, so my blood was boiling before things had even started. You would expect that this would have been quickly rectified by such a manufacturer yet it would appear not. We know this whole debacle cost us money as the whole editing to print process that includes the input of customers took an eternity. Ordinarily the customer is looking at the large external display as we operate the laptop. Discussions on editing are done in real time and the whole thing runs smoothly. Take away the external display and the whole system falls down. Turning a laptop to face a customer up to 20 times during editing takes time you don’t have with a large queue. Some waited patiently whilst others simply walked away at the time it was taking.

Not a great start with the new MBP.

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Issue number two was not too far behind. Photoshop was just crashing constantly and when this happens several times whilst trying to serve one customer, all parties can become quite rightly frustrated. Apple Care were bemused by this one and indeed it carried on for several days until it appeared to simply rectify itself.

I was initially informed it was a glitch, not to worry and just use the machine as normal. When I informed Apple that Photoshop was crashing because of the apparent lack of memory, I was then informed that this was a known issue and on the “to do” list at Apple and then told sorry but you’ll just have to wait for the update. Non of this helped us on the day and of course being a small business we can’t go knocking for redress at Apple. What this will do however, is ensure that I know all potential issues that could and would affect us will be shown to be non existing or resolved before I purchase a brand new updated model again. Whilst manufacturers love to see people queuing for the latest model on release day, I will not be amongst them with Apple products.

A screen shot of the memory allocation issue.

Yes 1.22TB of memory taken on a 500GB drive ……. go figure 😡

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The year certainly kicked off in style and other than the first weekend we were booked for all subsequent weekends. Year on year this was a large increase as have been the bookings for the entirety of 2017. We either have odd days on a weekend spare or no space at all until the second week in December. Word of mouth has seen us be snapped up over several regions and now with the equestrian work a weekend off will be rare. We have however reached agreement that for 2 weeks in August I will not take any bookings and leave 2 weeks empty as agreed in 2016.

The middle two weekends were both gymnastics with the North West BSGA Zonal Qualifiers followed by the North West NDP Individual & team qualifiers. Both huge weekends for not only ourselves but those involved I would say some 800-1000 competitors were involved over each weekend. A massive undertaking for both organisers and ourselves which I am pleased to say ran smoothly for both sides.

We now offer some new versions of our popular event montages which have gone down well. Maintaining prices at £10-£25 depending on how many images are chosen we have simply mixed the orientation of imagery that can be selected. This has allowed imagery such as team photo’s that tend to be landscape in orientation to be mixed with action images that tend to be in portrait orientation. Further options are currently being trialled for offerings.

January ended up being our busiest January for the last five years. It also yielded the highest take and subsequent conversion to profit too. With repeat bookings for next January we can hopefully rely on a good start to 2018 also.

This blogs image is a triple montage from one of the gymnastics events.

Jan 17

 

The end of 2016 was somewhat manic and so to simply write up about each and every event would be literacy lunacy at best. It would probably bore most people to sleep also.

The biggest event of the year for us was the Trampoline League Finals which were held at the Velodrome in Londons Olympic Park. Some of you may recall that we also covered the 2015 finals at the Copper Box Arena, across the road. Though the velodrome was clearly built for cycling the fact that the track was there made an excellent barrier between competitors and spectators. This kept the main competition floor clear of curios spectators that ignored keeping the floor clear of spectators at the Coper Box. You now have to imaging some 600+ competitors over the 2 days all doing two qualifying routines on the Saturday and then onto the actual finals on the Sunday. To say this is manic for us would be a gross understatement on the physical workload imposed. The two days saw us capture some 12,500 images in total which were all individually colour checked, cropped and uploaded into specific online galleries by the Thursday of the same week. Literally 7am to 11pm, over four days, continually using 2 computers to edit with is a guaranteed headache by 12 noon each day. Plenty of water consumed its almost like a marathon for your mental abilities to remain focussed on what you are doing. As with anything repetitive this can go somewhat wrong at times and this is where you take that 5 minute break and grab some air and refresh your brain.

The weekend was the success that the previous year had been too. As a consequence we are booked to cover the 2017 series including finals, which are again at the Velodrome. Our only niggle was the location for our sales desk which was somewhat stratospheric in location and required quite a trek, by potential customers, to reach us. This year we will be requesting a more local to the people spot.

Here’s my daughter with the view from our desk. This was the Friday evening during setup.

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Other notable jobs we undertook at the end of 2016 where the BSGA Schools qualifiers for the Yorkshire, North West & North East regions. These were held over three weekends, owing to their size, and again kept us busy as they were all held on successive weekends.

The Yorkshire championships were also held which was a mad weekend away in Huddersfield. Another fine spectacle of well drilled kids showing their skills to a most interested audience.

After a few Xmas parties for clubs and businesses the year came to a close for us in the third week of December. To actually sit and not have to worry for a couple of weeks about batteries, printers, monitors, and anything else equipment wise was lovely and allowed us to enjoy both Xmas and the New Year.

2017 was now knocking on the door. Bookings started in the January and with what was already a good solid years bookings did not include the surprise contract which arrived at the end of January. With several bookings already in for 2018 things were looking good.

I’ll leave with the image of our business logo being shown on the giant screens at the Velodrome. When I looked up and saw this for the first time I got one of those big silly smiles across my face. All the hard work was worth it.

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This is something that I knocked together for the BSGA Schools Trampoline series and to advertise that we were covering the Northern Zonals along with the upcoming finals.

The young lady in the leotard is my daughter. The image of her in that pose was taken in the studio and then simply photoshopped onto the swirling galaxy image. Taken with her sat on a black sheet and with a black background the removal was easy to accomplish. With a couple of star burst or lens flares added to strategic places the image was good to go.

I could have taken far more care over this yet as it was only going online to social media and not being printed out I felt that the time making things perfect was not justified. Issues with the hair, feet etc could have been sorted to look a little more convincing but for something such as this is there a need?

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One series we now cover had its 2015 finals last weekend in Wigan. Odd but they don’t actually start the qualifiers until late in the year and then have the finals in the first quarter of the following year. Must be an educational thing.

Anyway the culmination of all the qualifiers and subsequent knock out rounds around the country led us to Wigan for an excellent days competition. Some 400 competitors, all of school age, battling it out for an array of age and ability awards. The atmosphere within the competitors and most of the parents was one of excitement and positivity. As always there were a couple of moaning minis but hey ho the world needs these miserable gits to laugh at.

Whilst there was the usual array of Elite gymnasts form other series we now cover there were also the novice and disabled individuals of which some were truly inspirational. It was superb to see that all the gymnasts encouraged and even assisted in helping some of these gymnasts achieve their given goal. Grassroots sports is all too often neglected these days owing to money etc yet this is where, I personally see, the truly compassionate side of competition regardless of age, gender, money, disability etc etc. Whilst I agree some degree of elitism/dedication is required to reach the pinnacle of any sport people shouldn’t abandon or forget their roots and where they once started at the bottom.

Our coverage of the UK National League starts this weekend down at Southampton. This should be interesting as the whole series of qualifiers is maxed out at the 750 competitor safety limits. Last year we were dealing with 350 – 750 competitors per event so this year will see a marked increase in the obscene amount of images taken and GB storage used with our equipment. I still await the announcement for the 5D Mkiv specification before making a decision on at least one new body owing to the telephone number shutter count one of our 5Diii’s currently has. Nice and quick please Canon 🙂

A quick image showing some of the winners from last weekend.

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